Bringing affordable chassis designs to the masses is what BitFenix has been about since its inception. Not only have they been great at delivering wallet friendly designs, BitFenix has also delivered shapes, lighting, textures and all around good looking chassis' so far. Up to now it seems they are well known for the Colossus in its many flavors. While that design is a very large full tower chassis, sometimes that isn't what's needed for a build, or the larger frame just won't fit in your limited spacing. BitFenix already released one mid tower chassis design with the Survivor and Survivor Core cases. While I thought the chassis was stunning to look at, it was complicated to get inside once fully assembled.
So, BitFenix went back to the design team and said, let's deliver another mid tower chassis, but make it look nothing like the Survivor or Colossus cases already out there. This time around they delivered me a more subdued chassis with straight lines and a small stature as to accommodate everything from a full ATX build down to mini-ITX systems. Not only that, but they offer it in a case that fits not only in the spacing that is sometimes limited, but with the more subtle styling that allows this new chassis to fit with almost any decor. So, not only can this make for a full on gaming chassis, it can also compliment a black TV stand and LCD in your entertaining area. With a mini-ITX system installed, it will even make for an attractive HTPC.
Enough about what this case is capable of! I say we get right to the point and see what BitFenix offers in the Shinobi Window mid tower chassis we are going to look at today. Hopefully with the lowered cost of this unit, things aren't left out of the design to accommodate for a way to save users money. I have grown fond of the SofTouch coatings and tool-free designs. That in mind, let's get right into the specifications so I can work through the chart and get you the pricing and availability information I know is just as important to buyers as what the case actually looks like.
Specifications, Availability and Pricing
While the main frame of the chassis is built from steel and receives a black painted treatment both inside and out, the front bezel and top panel are both comprised of plastic and get the familiar SofTouch coating we have seen in the Colossus and Survivor chassis designs. It seems this is one thing aside from the large Phoenix logo that will set BitFenix cases apart from the crowd. Down the front of the chassis there is room for up to three optical drives, and one of those has a 3.5" adapter tray in it. Moving down the front, you then run into a large area of the SofTouch coating with a brushed metal BitFenix logo centering it. The top plastic cover is well ventilated in the rear over the motherboard and receives a mesh covering. Near the front of the chassis you will find the front I/O panel and power and reset buttons.
Setting this chassis apart from the standard Shinobi, of course, is the triangular shaped window in the side panel, and this window has a dark tint in it like the Colossus Window has. Internally they made a change to attach all the tool-free hardware to the drive bays. The 5.25" bays have a hinged clip to secure the drives. Simply lift the lock and it swings open to the left. Slide in a drive and then lock the clip back into the drive and the frame. The eight 3.5" bays have a clip that allows pins to pass through the steel cage to lock in the drives. In order to hold the clip in, the center of it has a keyed insert that gets locked into the cage with a twist of a knob on the outside of the clip.
The amount of cooling supplied in the Shinobi Window is a bit limited, but that in no way means there isn't options to turn this chassis into a wind tunnel. The front of the chassis ships with a single 120mm fan with a 3-pin connection for power. Even here there is the option to add a second intake fan right above the one that comes installed. The top of the chassis has no fans installed, but has the room to house either a pair of 120mm fans or 140mm fans; the choice is yours. The rear of the chassis has the only other fan installed in the chassis from BitFenix. The one installed is a 120mm fan, again with a 3-pin connection. If you should choose to reduce the fan size on this exhaust, there are mounting holes for a 92mm fan instead. Even the floor has additional options for adding a 120mm fan in front of the power supply. This just leaves us with the side panel. The windowed Shinobi has the tinted acrylic insert in this panel, and it has slots to allow airflow through it, and has mounting holes to add another 120mm fan here as well.
With the basic version of the Shinobi priced at an astounding $69.95 just about everywhere I looked, I feared with BitFenix adding the window and tool-free mechanisms, the price might incur a serious increase. Shopping with Google, I find that both the Shinobi and Shinobi Window are limited to four or five e-tailers in the US. Even though the amounts of places are limited, the pricing I found was a pleasant surprise. With the new additions to make the Shinobi Window, the retail pricing of $85.00 US dollars makes this chassis an attractive choice for your wallet as well. Even with shipping tacked on to most of these e-tailers prices, the finished to your door pricing can be had for just shy of $100. Considering that price point, let's jump into some images and see what BitFenix is offering for your portrait of Ben Franklin.
Becoming more and more typical from manufacturers is the plain brown box with black screen printing to help save on overall costs. There is the pair of logo's one large and one small, both placed over the Shinobi Window or Shinobi check boxes and the web address.
Spinning the box to the right you are greeted with a stylized Shinobi name, and image of the top and front of the chassis, and a full list of specifications.
The back of the box shows both the external and internal differences between the Shinobi and Shinobi Window. Around the images BitFenix covers five key features of this design.
Ignore the Fed Ex instructions; I couldn't entirely remove the plastic without destroying the panel. Under the Shinobi name you have yet another set of check boxes as to which of the two cases are inside along with the bar code and part number sticker.
Styrofoam top and bottom caps are used in conjunction with a plastic liner to keep the chassis safe from any accidental drops and vibrations during its trip. It obviously works well, my sample arrived in excellent condition.
The BitFenix Shinobi Window Mid Tower Case
The front of the Shinobi has two vertical lines of mesh flanking the SofTouch coated outside plastic trim. The bulk of the bezel in the middle is also coated, but has access for three 5.25" devices and has a metal logo inserted into the rest of the large lower half.
The top of the chassis receives the SofTouch coating as well. Toward the back of the chassis there is a large area covered in steel mesh. Under which you can install either a pair of 140mm fan or 120mm fans.
Zooming in you can get a good look at the front I/O. For the Shinobi, connectivity is limited to four USB 2.0 ports and the 3.5mm audio and MIC jacks. The red LED is the HDD activity, while the blue Led on the right is to signify the power. Of course there is the large power button with the power symbol on it, the smaller button to the top and right is the reset.
This is what separates the Shinobi pair apart. The Windowed version has this triangular window applied in the left side panel. Not only is the window darkly tinted, it also allows for an optional 120mm fan to be mounted in it.
The rear of the chassis has room for a 120mm or 92mm exhaust fan next to the rear I/O. The middle allows for up to seven expansion cards and offers a pair of holes for water cooling. The power supply then mounts in the bottom, and the chassis offers venting for a fan down installation.
Under the chassis there are steel bumps acting as the feet for now. There are feet in the hardware kit; I just haven't applied them at this point. To the left is the venting to allow a PSU to breathe well and to its right, a hole for a 120mm fan. Both of the vented areas have plastic dust covers that remove and reinstall pretty easily.
Inside the BitFenix Shinobi Window Mid Tower Case
With the side panels off the frame we get a good look at what is going on inside the Shinobi Window. The manual seen on the floor of the chassis floats freely during transit, but the large white box gets strapped to the hard drive rack to keep your hardware secure.
With the Window comes the addition of the tool-free clips you see here. The top three for the optical bays are a pull to release, push to lock type of clip. The bottom eight bays use a insert and twist to lock style clip.
The motherboard tray is clearly marked for mini-ITX, micro-ATX, or ATX riser installations. Around the outside there are six holes to allow for wire management and twenty-three points to tie wiring to for a tidy finished look.
With the fan in front of the hard drive bays and the one you see mounted here, we have just covered the included cooling from the 120mm fans found in this chassis. I do like that the side of the case is cut to allow better access to the screws for the expansion slot covers.
Behind the tray you have 22mm on the low end and 24mm where there aren't any bumps in the tray to hide your wiring. Also notice that both sides of the hard drive bays have the tool-free clips to be sure the drives are secure.
Wiring is kept basic, but I live that all the wires are sleeved black. Even if they do have to travel across the inside to make their connections, being black they should go pretty much unnoticed.
The front bezel pulls off the front and as you can see there are no wires attached. The body of the chassis has the room for two fans even though only one 120mm fan is installed. I also like the dust filter on here, I don't know if the screw in the center is just for shipping, but I do know it holds this filter in very well.
Accessories and Documentation
Inside of the large hardware box this is what you will find. I got two sets of four rubber feet with mine. To install these, peel the 3M tape covering and apply them directly to the flat tops of the bumps on the bottom of the chassis. You also receive a padlock loop for the left door panel and a set of ten wire ties. Along the bottom you see the black risers, power supply screws, and another set of screws for optical drives and motherboard mounting.
This adapter comes installed in the top 5.25" bay. If you plan on using a floppy drive, remove the bay cover from the bezel and slide this into the bay. There are holes in the floor of this tray that are set up for 2.5" drive installation. In this instance you may want to leave the bay cover on and slide this into the second set of alignment holes.
The manual handles everything from how the tool-less mechanisms work, to the wiring, all the way through a build. As usual from BitFenix, the text and images are easy to follow and will guide you through any sort of issues that may arise during your own build.
The Build and Finished Product
The optical drive installs very flush with the bezel and doesn't take away from the simpler understated design of the Shinobi. The latch on the left will hold the drive in place, but I had to use a screw to keep the right side of the drive in line.
With my m-ATX build installed I didn't have any clearance issues with any of my components. This chassis does allow for 10.5" graphics cards, but you can see that hard drives may interfere with them. Also, with a full ATX motherboard, the drives will likely cover the SATA ports as well.
The back filled out as I would expect. No issues to discuss here.
With the 22 to 24mm of spacing behind the tray I had no issues running any of the cabling. With over twenty tie points, there are plenty of options to tie up the wiring and keep it away from the door panel. Speaking of which, the panel slides back in place without touching anything I have wired in here.
Since the window is so dark, with or without power, there really isn't a good view seen. I would suggest picking up some Alchemy LED strips or even LED fans. The more light you have inside the case, the easier it will be to see the components.
Powering up the Shinobi Window, I was pleased to notice two things. First off is that only the red and blue LEDs at the top are active during use and since they aren't facing forward, they won't have a blinding effect and shouldn't disturb your sleep if placed in your bedroom. The second, and more important aspect to me, is the low noise level coming from the chassis fans. Even with a lack of "bling" this chassis still offers an individual presence.
At this point I find the pricing to be right on point. Coming in just under $100 makes this a very friendly case for its many uses and the lack of the dent it is going to put in your wallet. I did find myself wanting more fans to light up the interior and offer a clearer view of what was behind the window, but the pair of 120mm fans that are included do a sufficient job of producing enough air flow to keep me within comfortable temperatures. The Shinobi Window isn't quite a blank canvas, as it already has style and elegance, but there are plenty of opportunities to add your own splashes of colors and LED lighting done the way you want it from the jump, since you customize this case to fit your specific needs.
While it is lacking LEDs for other than the activity lights and there isn't a fan controller, and there isn't any USB 3.0 connectivity, certain concessions have to be made to accommodate the fact that they offer style and functionality all with a very nice price. If you have to have the LEDs or the fan control, BitFenix offers those as well, so you can still have a fully loaded chassis all within the BitFenix name. What features are offered is optimum wire management and plenty of room to do it, tool-free mechanisms to make installation easier, a SofTouch exterior to keep things cleaner, and attractive looks that makes it much easier on the eyes.
You are going to be limited to places like FrozenCPU, East Luna, Heatsink Factory or Xoxide to buy either the standard Shinobi, or the Shinobi Window. I really like the pricing, though. At $85 US dollars to buy this case off the shelf before shipping or taxes comes with enough features and style to demand the price it is getting. Going back to when I started in custom builds, cases for under $100 offered nothing in the way of interior paint or even any wire management. Now these types of things are almost expected, but in most offerings the price isn't near the Shinobi Window. In the end, I had no real issues with the installation, fit of a large cooler, tidy wire management, or any fitting issues with the doors or drives. What you get is simplicity with options in a very sleek and appealing looking mid tower chassis.
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